Exploring Antigua – a Paradise Found

Looking over the English Harbour from Shirley Heights.

Looking over the English Harbour from Shirley Heights.

The best way to explore Antigua is on the road. Driving through the island in a car, windows open, sunglasses on and Caribbean reggae tunes playing loudly on the radio. This is how you get a good feel for the rhythm of the tiny West Indies island. You will see residential areas around the capital, St John, to go past you with sights of colourful, almost playhouse looking constructs. Bumpy roads and their huge potholes make it necessary for drivers to learn to respect one another and be patient as you spend as much time on the right as you do on the left hand side of the road.

Exploring Antigua on the road is the best way to get a feel for the real rhythm of the West Indies island. Get your car directly at the airport (try e.g. Avis) so you will be able to enjoy the freedom and flexibility your own wheels provides you.

Exploring Antigua on the road is the best way to get a feel for the real rhythm of the West Indies island. Get your car directly at the airport (try e.g. Avis) so you will be able to enjoy the freedom and flexibility your own wheels provides you.

See the real, rural side of Antigua around St John

See the real, rural side of Antigua around St John.

Watch simple, colourful almost playhouse looking homes of the locals going past you when you explore the different sides of the island

Watch simple, colourful almost playhouse looking homes of the locals going past you when you explore the different sides of the island.

A car allows you to reach areas of the island which you might find difficult on foot. The uphills and downhills of the Fig Tree Drive with banana trees towering on the both sides of the road. Or take a turn to the pineapple farm. It is the sole one on the island that is very beautiful, but unfortunately for the locals, not very well suited for large scale farming. Devil’s Bridge is striking particularly on a windy day when you can watch the sea bashing against the rocks and forming beautiful sculptures just for a second.

Take a dirt road all the way to the Devil's Bridge to admire the spectacular sceneries of the seaside, particularly on a windy day

Take a dirt road all the way to the Devil’s Bridge to admire the spectacular sceneries of the seaside, particularly on a windy day.

Watch the sea bashing against the rocks and forming beautiful sculptures just for a second at Devil's Bridge.

Watch the sea bashing against the rocks and forming beautiful sculptures just for a second at Devil’s Bridge.

Antigua is wonderful to explore on the sea. Gliding on the Caribbean Sea on a sailing boat, observing the greenery of the land from a distance, being surrounded by turquoise waters and feeling a warm breeze on your face. Anchoring your boat on a quiet bay and diving into the warm waters to snorkel and swim. Alternatively accessing the seaside in a small kayak and taking stops to observe the plants and living organs of the waters.

Antigua is wonderful to explore on the sea. We took a day charter with Jabberwocky Yacht Charter which was a perfect day of sailing, snorkelling, lunch on the boat and exploring the island from the sea.

Antigua is wonderful to explore on the sea. We took a day charter with Jabberwocky Yacht Charter which was a perfect day of sailing, snorkelling, lunch on the boat and exploring the island from the sea.

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Gliding on the Caribbean Sea on a sailing boat, observing the greenery of the land from a distance, being surrounded by turquoise waters and feeling a warm breeze on your face.

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Kayak tours are a nice way to explore the Antiguan seaside at a slow pace. We went along with Antigua Paddles for an ‘eco tour’ which included a ride with a speed boat, guided kayak tour and some snorkelling. The tour felt perhaps a little formuleic as all steps of the tour were closely timed and we felt a little bit like sheep being shepherded. The owners of Antigua Paddles, Conrad and Jennie, won over our hearts though with their hospitality and friedliness.

Antigua offers so much for those who want to explore the world’s best beaches. Half Moon Bay in the South East is a striking piece of coastland where you are guaranteed to be one of the only ones enjoying its white sands and blue waters. No hotel remains in this part of the island and dirt roads which can be testing for small cars make the bay quite difficult to reach. It is really worth the effort though as your eyes will rest in the tranquil scenery. The carress of the ocean touching the shoreline or hitting against the rocks of the most eastern tip of the island. The stepmarks your feet will leave on the sand of the Half Moon Way will remain there to be found by another explorer of the Antiguan Island.

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Half Moon Bay in the South East is a striking piece of coastland where you are guaranteed to be one of the only ones enjoying its white sands and blue waters.

Turners Beach and Darkwood Beach are on the lively and sociable South Western coast of the island. The beachside bars at Turners or Darkwood beach serve the best fruit  or rum punches you need for a relaxing holiday. Stay late enough to watch the magnificent sunsets from your sun lounger.

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Turners Beach on the lively and sociable South Western coast of the island.

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Darkwood beach

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The best fruit punch for a relaxing holiday.

The fun side of Antigua can be discovered on Sunday evenings in Shirley Heights. This hill with an amazing lookout over the English Harbour holds a traditional Caribbean barbecue, rum punch and music night every week. It may be rather touristic and disappointingly few locals come along anymore. The atmosphere is  nevertheless unbeatable thanks to the spectacular sunset, great bands and flair that allows even the most tight lipped to kick back and enjoy life.

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Wonderful sunset made the barbecue night at Shirley Heights extra special.

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Listening to Caribbean music and enjoying a rum punch or two up in Shirley Heights on a regular Sunday night.

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Gathering of tourists and a handful of locals for a fun barbecue night.

A piece of history is the best discovered in the English Harbour. The majestic sailing boats are anchored in the harbour, just like in Admiral Nelson’s times. A small museum tells you about the history of the harbour and island. Restaurant Admiral’s Inn has a sun terrace which is perfect for people watching and reflexion.

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The majestic sailing boats are anchored in the harbour, just like in Admiral Nelson’s times.

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Restaurant Admiral’s Inn has a sun terrace which is perfect for people watching and reflexion.

For the ultimate “forgot all your worries” experience, explore Antigua’s beach side restaurants like Jacqui O’s or OJs by Crabbe Hill beach. In Jacqui O’s you will enjoy fantastic sea food like tuna tartar, grilled lobster and red snapper in a beautiful setting. Breeze from the sea and a shade of the restaurant ensure perfect climate for late lunch or early dinner.

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For the ultimate “forgot all your worries” experience, explore Antigua’s beach side restaurants like Jacqui O’s or OJs by Crabbe Hill beach.

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Red snapper, a stable of Antiguan cooking.

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IMG_5691IMG_5674 Fish was so fresh in Antigua that it was a shame not to eat it raw!

Life is sweet in the Crabbe Hill beach.

Life is sweet in the Crabbe Hill beach.

The ten perfect days in Antigua this winter were my first time in the Caribbean. I was so impressed with the spectacular landscapes, the peacefulness and the friendliness of the island that I never wanted to return to the wintery England after our holiday. Unlike some of the Asian islands, which are certainly beautiful and exotic but also difficult because of malaria danger, begging and extreme poverty, Antigua was purely a piece of paradise on the Earth.

Contacts:

Jabberwocky – Adventure Caribbean Yacht Charters
Telephone: +1 268-764-0595 or +1 268- 779-8198
Email: info@adventurecaribbean.com

Antigua Paddles
Mercers Creek, Seatons Village, Antigua
Tel: +1 268-720-4322
Email: info@antiguapaddles.com

Jacqui O’s Beachhouse
Crabbe Hill, Antigua
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00-18:00
Tel: +1 268-562-2218

OJs Beachbar
Crabbe Hill, Antigua
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 10:00-23:00
Tel: +1 269-462-8651

Shirley Heights Lookout
Tel: +1 268-728-0636 or +1 268-764-0389
Email: info@shirleyheightslookout.com

The Admiral’s Inn
Nelsons Dockyard, Dockyard Dr, English Harbour Town, Antigua
Tel: +1 268-460-1027
Email: info@AdmiralsInnAntigua.com

Avis Car Hire
V.C.Bird International Airport, St. Johns, Antigua
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 7:00-23:00
Tel: +1 268-462-2840

(c) Nordic Odyssey 2013. All Rights Reserved.

3 responses to “Exploring Antigua – a Paradise Found

  1. More amazing pics Kristiina, not sure how I missed this post! That snapper looks delish, and the scenery too wow. In the course of two posts you have successfully made me miss both London and the Carib, haha. Hope your week’s gone well!xx

  2. Pingback: Antigua Hotel Review: Carlisle Bay | Nordic Odyssey·

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